Australians Say Home Ownership Means Happiness
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Australians Say Home Ownership Means Happiness

A new report shows 70 percent of Australians feel that owning a home contributes to their personal happiness in life.

By Bronwyn Allen
Thu, Jan 4, 2024 10:47amGrey Clock 2 min

Most Australians feel that home ownership is important for their overall happiness, providing not only a sense of financial security but also contributing to their emotional wellbeing. Those are the findings of a research report undertaken by the customer-owned Great Southern Bank.

The research contains insights from almost 2,000 Australians on how they’re feeling about their current living situation. It found homeowners are significantly happier with their homes than renters, and the more equity they have in their homes, the happier they feel. Happiness is highest for mortgage-free homeowners, with 57 percent saying they were ‘very happy’ compared to 45 percent of homeowners with a mortgage and 29 percent of long-term renters.

Megan Keleher, Chief Customer Officer at Great Southern Bank, said: “What this report illustrates is the strong link between home ownership and happiness – in fact 7 out of 10 Australians say home ownership is important to their overall happiness,” Ms Keleher said. “Just 5 percent – or one in 20 – say it is not at all important. And perhaps not surprisingly, happiness with our home increases as we get older, and as we move towards becoming mortgage-free.”

The report found that 51 percent of renters are feeling heavily burdened by their financial commitments compared to 36 percent of homeowners. About 84 percent of long-term renters say they are concerned about current cost-of-living pressures compared to 73 percent of homeowners. And 80 percent are worried about housing affordability compared to 62 percent of owners.

Ms Kelaher said 29 percent of renters and 18 percent of long-term renters were still feeling confident that they could achieve their home ownership dreams. One in two renters said they were hopeful of buying a home to live in within the next three years, however saving a deposit is the key barrier.

“Of course, we acknowledge that the homeownership journey can be difficult and one of the biggest challenges faced by first home buyers is saving a deposit,” said Ms Keleher. “For those buyers who are finding it difficult to save a deposit, there is support available from several government initiatives. For instance, the Federal Government Home Guarantee Scheme’s expanded eligibility criteria is helping more first-time buyers, as well as those who haven’t owned a home for many years.”

One in 10 respondents who had previously planned to buy a home are now holding off, saying they feel deterred by rising property prices (60 percent), the cost of living (60 percent) or rising interest rates (45 percent). New CoreLogic data shows the national home value rose by 8.1 percent in 2023. Meantime, interest rates have risen dramatically since May 2022 from an emergency low of 0.1 percent to 4.35 percent today.

The report also asked respondents how satisfied they were with various elements of their homes, such as style and location.

About 72 percent of baby boomers were happy with their home’s location compared to 61 percent of Gen Xers, 58 percent of millennials and 48 percent of Gen Zs. About 62 percent of baby boomers liked the internal look and feel of their homes versus 51 percent of Gen Xers and 48 percent of both millennials and Gen Zs.

It appears many Australians are living in homes that are too big or small for them, with the size of homes recording some of the lowest satisfaction scores. Just 65 percent of baby boomers are happy with the size of their homes compared to 48 percent of Gen Xers, 42 percent of millennials and 40 percent of Gen Zs.


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Hong Kong Takes Drastic Action to Avert Property Slump

The city’s real-estate market has been hurt by high interest rates and mainland China’s economic slowdown

Fri, Mar 1, 2024 3 min

Hong Kong has taken a bold step to ease a real-estate slump, scrapping a series of property taxes in an effort to turn around a market that is often seen as a proxy for the city’s beleaguered economy.

The government has removed longstanding property taxes that were imposed on nonpermanent residents, those buying a second home, or people reselling a property within two years after buying, Financial Secretary Paul Chan said in his annual budget speech on Wednesday.

The move is an attempt to revive a property market that is still one of the most expensive in the world, but that has been badly shaken by social unrest, the fallout of the government’s strict approach to containing Covid-19 and the slowdown of China’s economy . Hong Kong’s high interest rates, which track U.S. rates due to its currency peg,  have increased the pressure .

The decision to ease the tax burden could encourage more buying from people in mainland China, who have been a driving force in Hong Kong’s property market for years. Chinese tycoons, squeezed by problems at home, have  in some cases become forced sellers  of Hong Kong real estate—dealing major damage to the luxury segment.

Hong Kong’s super luxury homes  have lost more than a quarter of their value  since the middle of 2022.

The additional taxes were introduced in a series of announcements starting in 2010, when the government was focused on cooling down soaring home prices that had made Hong Kong one of the world’s least affordable property markets. They are all in the form of stamp duty, a tax imposed on property sales.

“The relevant measures are no longer necessary amidst the current economic and market conditions,” Chan said.

The tax cuts will lead to more buying and support prices in the coming months, said Eddie Kwok, senior director of valuation and advisory services at CBRE Hong Kong, a property consultant. But in the longer term, the market will remain sensitive to the level of interest rates and developers may still need to lower their prices to attract demand thanks to a stockpile of new homes, he said.

Hong Kong’s authorities had already relaxed rules last year to help revive the market, allowing home buyers to pay less upfront when buying certain properties, and cutting by half the taxes for those buying a second property and for home purchases by foreigners. By the end of 2023, the price index for private homes reached a seven-year low, according to Hong Kong’s Rating and Valuation Department.

The city’s monetary authority relaxed mortgage rules further on Wednesday, allowing potential buyers to borrow more for homes valued at around $4 million.

The shares of Hong Kong’s property developers jumped after the announcement, defying a selloff in the wider market. New World Development , Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development were higher in afternoon trading, clawing back some of their losses from a slide in their stock prices this year.

The city’s budget deficit will widen to about $13 billion in the coming fiscal year, which starts on April 1. That is larger than expected, Chan said. Revenues from land sales and leases, an important source of government income, will fall to about $2.5 billion, about $8.4 billion lower than the original estimate and far lower than the previous year, according to Chan.

The sweeping property measures are part of broader plans by Hong Kong’s government to prop up the city amid competition from Singapore and elsewhere. Stringent pandemic controls and anxieties about Beijing’s political crackdown led to  an exodus of local residents and foreigners  from the Asian financial centre.

But tens of thousands of Chinese nationals have arrived in the past year, the result of Hong Kong  rolling out new visa rules aimed at luring talent in 2022.


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Chris Dixon, a partner who led the charge, says he has a ‘very long-term horizon’

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